Donovan McNabb-Michael Vick: Analyzing Top 10 Black Quarterbacks

Lake CruiseAnalyst IOctober 3, 2010

Vick, JaMarcus Russel, and McNabb
Vick, JaMarcus Russel, and McNabbJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Black quarterback: The very term is capable of igniting a firestorm of fervent discussion, but the situation has fallen back, because the racial climate in these United States has chilled out.

Chill, my readers.  We have a long way to go in order to accomplish the goal that was so well articulated in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, but we’re getting there.

My two-year old daughter will not grow up in a nation that vilifies her light-skinned tone for an African-Americanat least not where I live. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not enough of a numbskull to believe that racism will fall completely off the map overnight.

But in America the difference is night and day on the racial front from what it was like when my parents were coming up out of Macon, Miss. to St. Louis in order to make a better life for their growing family during the Civil Rights Movement.

Like Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame tailback and civil rights activist Jim Brown once said, "I paid my damn taxes and I wanted my damn rightswhatever that meant, I wanted them."

My parents paid their "damned taxes" and they wanted their "damned rights", too.  They were able to move to another state because it was their civil right. 

Those days are long gone, so why most Philadelphia Eagles fans can’t be moved to embrace Donovan McNabb for what he is is beyond my intellectual capacity, I guess. 

My readers, critics, and commentators will have to help me figure this out.  Because McNabb is without question, the best player in Eagles franchise history.

Donovan is also a great humanitarian, a fun guy to be around, smart, a strong leader, and a fine player who cannot get his just due in Philly.

Ron Jaworski is still revered in Philly, yet his Eagles career was sub-par compared to McNabb’s. 

I love "Jaws" because he tells it like it is, and he is the best NFL analyst on television since John Madden, but McNabb was a far better quarterback, and Ron has said it himself.

Former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil never won a Super Bowl, yet his face still appears on ads in the Philadelphia area. McNabb is scorned for not having won a Super Bowl as an Eagle.

Some argue that Donovan played while out of shape, or that he didn’t have any heart, but those debaters would be wise to mention that McNabb played on a broken ankle.  And had he sat on the bench while out of shape, he would have been scorned even more.

Donovan reached five NFC Championships and took the Eagles to the Super Bowl, and his understudy, Michael Vick, appears to be walking in McNabb's path.


Blaze the right path, and people will follow, I say. As a matter of fact, that was the first time I’ve said it. 

Shout out to myself for being a creative sports journalistin my own mind.

As a writer who loathes the term "race" as it is (i.e, the white race, the black race, the brown race, etc), I believe in promoting our similarities rather than our differences in this great country of ours, where wrongs are corrected only when the necessary force is applied.

What other nation on earth can give a man who applies himself, and refrains from sipping purple codeine syrup beverages while playing quarterback in a black colored jersey, a chance to make millions of dollars in support of his family?

Not even in China, the world's most sky-rocketing economy, does this opportunity exist.

Quarterbacks who happen to be black not only existed, but thrived in the Ivy League of all places during the Civil Rights Movement, and some of those quarterbacks were socially conscious enough to thank the biggest names of the Movement.

Dennis Coleman was one of five so-called black quarterbacks who played in the Ivy League as starters from 1969–1974. He was Brown University's signal caller.

Other Ivy League signal callers during those years who just happened to be black: Rod Plummer (Princeton), Rob Foster (Harvard), Marty Vaughn (Pennsylvania), Bob Dubose (Columbia), and Barrett Rosser (Cornell).

"There's no question we benefited from people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., even Huey Newton and Stokely Carmichael," Coleman said. "What happened was that doors were opened. It was the great experiment."

I cringe when I hear the word experiment when it is applied to racial matters. I've read about the Tuskegee syphilis testing that was conducted on some 400 impoverished black men, and the recent news of the same type of clinical study performed on Guatemalans makes me sick.

What makes me sicker is men who use race to draw television and radio ratings. But these men are like dinosaurs, just like the very term that I've mentioned throughout this piece.

These days, the term could possibly refer to a white quarterback who plays in a major college program’s spring game.

Beware NCAA coaches. Pitting the black team against the white team may be an NCAA violation that will get you the NCAA death penalty, or cause you to have to return your Heisman Trophyif you have one.

But it is entirely foreseeable to have a black team face a white team in practice: The University of Nebraska’s starting defensive unit has long been referred to as the black shirt defense.

Why? Because they wear black jerseys that denote them as the starters.  And there is nothing wrong with that, just please, don’t refer to any one of them as black-face defenders. 

Like I was a walking "Chicago Defender" newspaper, I know American history more than all of my friends and associates, and I have a plethora of friends and associates: too many to list here.

So I know that the 1920's vaudeville minstrel and jazz singer, Al Jolson, would be scorned to the point of having to seek a different career in a different country, in a far, far corner of the world if he sang the infamous song “Mammy” during a Super Bowl.

Jolson’s trademark was the burnt cork black face.  The same scorn would fall upon the vaudeville era comedic duo known as Amos and Andy (not Andy Reid who is the Philadelphia Eagles head coachnote to my fellow X-ers).

In about four more hours from the time I’m penning this article, Reid will coach the recovering image that is Michael Vick in a game against the Washington Redskins who are now (this just in) quarterbacked by Reid’s former pupil, Donovan McNabb. 

This football game could possibly break NFL records for televisions ratings.  American sports and television progress at its finest, ladies and gentleman. 

Wait, are we almost free at last?

Last, but not least, I have a list to present to you all.

Most of the names on this list have not had the pleasure of being called a black quarterback.  Only Doug Williams comes to mind in terms of being labeled that term.


Not great black quarterbacks, but they are great quarterbacks, period.

While the term black quarterback is probably politically incorrect for some to say, but all right for others to say, depending on the circumstances, the phrase can be useful.

My use of the terminology should not be looked on as a double-standard. I use the term for comparison purposes onlyso that African-American quarterbacks have a set of parameters to help them set their goals even higher.

McNabb represents the era of NFL quarterbacks, who happen to be black, who could play the game without fear of being written about in derogatory terms and without being referred to derogatorily as a "black quarterback".

Rush Limbaugh aside. 

The NFL QB rating scale was devised in 1971 by an expert committee who shall remain nameless. The rating is based on passing efficiency only. 

Peyton Manning holds the highest rating for a season at 121.1, in 2004. Ben Roethlisberger set the rookie record at 98.1, in 2004. 

A perfect rating is 158.3 and it has been accomplished 59 times during a pro game.

James Harris of the Los Angeles Rams posted a perfect rating in a game against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 20, 1974. 


Vince Evans of the Chicago Bears, Jeff Blake of the Cincinnati Bengals, and McNabb have also posted perfect ratings in an NFL game.

For now, former San Francisco 49er superstar Steve Young holds the highest career QB rating, at 96.8. Phillip Rivers is a close second at 96.2.

Without further ramblings, here are the top 15 QB ratings all-time for black NFL QBs, and where those players are now.

1. Daunte Culpepper 87.8 — Signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League and joined his former head coach Dennis Green.

2. Donovan McNabb 86.6 — Starting for the Washington Redskins

3. David Garrard 84.9 — Starting for the Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Steve McNair 82.8 — Murdered by his suicidal mistress in 2009

5. Jason Campbell 81.6 — Relegated to occasional starter with the Oakland Raiders

6. Randall Cunningham 81.5 — An ordained minister and founder of a church called Remnant Ministries in Las Vegas, he is the offensive coordinator at Silverado High School where is son, Randall Cunningham II, is a freshman QB.

7. Warren Moon 80.9Seattle Seahawks broadcaster, involved in a new business venture with a sports marketing and entertainment company


8. Byron Leftwich 79.6 — Signed as a Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB.

9. Aaron Brooks 78.5 — Investing in Southeast Commerce Center, a town house, grocery store, and retail offerings redevelopment project in his hometown of Newport News.

10.  Jeff Blake 78.0 — Married with four children, and his son, Emory, is a receiver at Auburn.

11.  Michael Vick 76.8 — Named the starter after Week 1 for the Philadelphia Eagles.

12.  Rodney Peete 73.3 — Married to actress Holly Robinson.  Father of four.  Co-host of "Meet the Peete" on XM Radio.

13.  Tony Banks 72.4 —  Probably somewhere getting his hair permed.

14.  Kordell Stewart 70.9 — An NFL analyst for ESPNEWS.  Slated to be a sideline reporter for the UFL.

15.  Doug Williams 69.4 — Most recently an executive with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although he no longer serves in this capacity.

I'll leave you, my faithful readers with this: Remember the words of the late Michael Jackson: "If you want to be my quarterback, it don’t matter if you’re black or white."

Or something like that.  Please don't sue me Mr. Joe Jackson.  I'm broke.


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